Samuel Shores Forrest
FORREST, Samuel Shores, Ladies, you've missed your chance. Sam Forrest sailed away quietly on May 5, 2021 after a sudden hurricane of ill health.

Samuel Shores Forrest, like his bold, finely crafted furniture, was one of a kind.

Born in Mathews, Va. on January 20, 1936, in the depths of the Great Depression, to Lovie Corrine Clinard and Dennis Dryden Forrest, he was steeped in a tradition of individuality and self-sufficiency. After high school in Mathews, Sam joined the U.S. Navy, then attended Richmond Professional Institute (RPI), the forerunner to Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU). Now a leading public arts university, its identity was cemented in the 1950s and '60s when Sam was an integral part of it. He majored in social work, served as a parole officer, then returned to study art, where he developed his obsession with furniture design.

The rest of his life was driven by a Promethean instinct to explore.

Sam's life was a high-wire act, whether surviving on a farm without electricity, in a cargo container at his "Buddha Ranch," on a kibbutz in Israel, or in a car that served as a motel room for months while searching for a particular boat.

Upon finding that boat -- a 28-footer, handcrafted by a local high school student -- Sam single-handedly sailed across the Atlantic, missing his French destination and re-routing himself through the Mediterranean to Malta, Tunis, Crete, Greece and Egypt. Rather than lose money by selling his boat at the end of the trip, Sam sailed back across the Atlantic, nearly losing his life off the coast of North Carolina.

A gourmand of adventurous living, Sam then set his sights on a new frontier: the mountains. After living in the mountains of Virginia, he loaded up an old Volkswagen camper and headed for Oregon.

Despite his itinerant ways, Sam remained deeply attached to Mathews and to Richmond.

He was a part of the Richmond art scene since the 1960s, when he formed friendships with artists Rubin Peacock, William Fletcher Jones, Bill Kendrick, Bill Amlong, Warren Cook and writer, Tom Robbins, who found nurture at the legendary Village Cafe.

In 1987, Sam moved to the Carver community in Richmond. Unhappy with Richmond politics, he ran for City Council in 1990. Despite losing the election, he continued to fight for his beliefs, attending Council meetings, emailing his dissatisfactions to City Hall and, on occasion, complimenting their decisions. A number of his letters to the Richmond Times-Dispatch earned him "Correspondent of the Day."

As an active member of the Carver Community Association, Sam was a regular at their meetings. Charleen Baylor, former CCA president recalled: "Sam was always challenging, yet hardworking and always contributing." He knew his neighbors and they knew him. In the almost 30 years that he lived in the Carver community, he kept an open door for lively conversation on issues of the day. While many disagreed with his political or philosophical views, all delighted in his stories of adventure and his handcrafted furniture. Neighbor and longtime friend Zarina Falzaldin recalls that in addition to civic leadership: "Sam loved music and was a beautiful dancer."

Of Sam's style of woodworking, Rubin Peacock noted: "His work is not mere craftsmanship. It has emotional power and communicates the universal. It stands alone and is unique in any visual language."

For artist Catherine Venable: "His furniture, like him, is taken from nature, shaped with incredible precision, sanded to perfection, and then dressed with a pleasing sheen. He struggled to make himself a better man, aspiring to Buddha."

While striving toward a state of Buddhahood, Sam also made many a sacrifice to Bacchus. He was a likely guest at any good party. "He was a master of passion in three dimensions," according to Ryland Fleet. "A steady and loyal friend. A charming rascal."

Sam leaves behind a son, Samuel Shores Forrest Jr., known as "Bo"; and grandson, Joshua Forrest, of Baltimore, Md.

Those who watched Sam merge into the horizon of this life were struck by his astonishing vitality. Safe travels, old friend. And "thank you, kindly."
To plant trees in memory, please visit our Sympathy Store.
Published by Richmond Times-Dispatch on May 12, 2021.
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21 Entries
Frank A. Wood Jr.
May 19, 2021
Only new him briefly but he was one of the coolest men i ever met RIP Mr. Sam
Richard Soter
May 14, 2021
Driving down the road ,Sam invited me to scream as loudly as I could for no particular reason ,and I did ,it felt good!!!
Maude Baltzegar
May 14, 2021
Where oh where will any equinox be celebrated? I think that none will be the same!
Shelby Toth Lassiter
May 14, 2021
The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, nor to worry about the future, but to live the present moment wisely and earnestly. That sir... you did. God Speed Sam...we will miss you!
Brian and Dee Russell
May 13, 2021
Brilliant artist, charming personality, hard working, dedicated to enjoying life to the fullest and a good friend. I will miss him!
Frank Wood
May 13, 2021
What a treasure to know this man. I was fortunate to visit Sam just before he passed, and witnessed his brave spirit undiminished. He gave me many gifts in our 20 plus years of friendship, but his courage at the end was perhaps most meaningful. I hope I never forget this great man.
Peter Geiger
May 13, 2021
Ism saddened to learn of Sam´s passing. He was a great friend of my late husband,Alexander Wellford, and also me I am still in shock. I met him for the first time after his return from Europe. What a life he had! The obituary captured Sam´s essence. He and Sandy are talking away, now. I shall miss him.
Georgiana G. Wellford
May 12, 2021
I did not know Sam well, but I knew he was a beautiful person as soon as I met him! I am sure he blessed many...peace Sam. We will miss you.
Jean Howard
May 12, 2021
My deepest condolences. It was a great pleasure to have known Sam. What a fun and remarkable man! It was a great pleasure to know him. I will always keep a part of him with me. God bless you, Sam. You will be greatly missed.
Joe Sowell
May 12, 2021
We are so glad we were able to know Sam - he was alway so full of life!
Maureen and Don Connolly
May 12, 2021
Sam was an inspiration and mentor to me... his passion for life and travel were boundless!! I hope you found your sign old friend!! Help me in my quest!! Cheers to you and the memories
Jeff Heidig
May 12, 2021
Fly high Sam. I will miss your visits to the Mathews Farmers Market. You will live on in your beautiful creations and all those who have known you.
cynthia plessinger
May 12, 2021
Sam, you de man. Thank you so much for all you gave and continue to give. You are so missed.what an incredible legacy. God speed and fair winds.
Tim hill
May 12, 2021
Good friend, avid collector of Sam's finest. Rest in peace my friend
Bob Deuster
May 12, 2021
I read Sams Obituary while sitting next to the incredibly deigned and crafted white oak coffee table That he made for me when he was 80. No words but if you never crossed paths with him you missed the most interesting and accomplished man of a lifetime
Jimmy Gregory
May 12, 2021
Dear Bo,My heart goes out to you as you grieve the loss of your father. Sincerely,Ralph M.Gray
Ralph M. Gray
May 12, 2021
Will always remember visiting with you in the mountains with Kathy Ellis, making failed pfan kitchen in your wood stove...Love always, Sam, Lucy
Lucy Coates
May 12, 2021
He pioneered many interesting neighborhoods before they became popular: Church Hill, Carver and, finally, Brooklyn's Park Blvd where he covered the parking of an old gas station with tubs of eye-popping sunflowers. He, his imagination, and his parties will be missed. Fare thee well.
Jennie Dotts
May 12, 2021
Sam, I never had the pleasure of meeting you, but heard so many wonderful things about you from your friend Anne! We had the good fortune to see some of your lovely furniture and truly it was inspiring! Continue your adventures in your heavenly home! RIP!
Freddi Morgan
May 12, 2021
SAIL ON SAM, A LIFE WELL LIVED IS THE BEST OF ALL WORLDS, and you certainly had quite the life and adventures.........a friend for a short time, and in that time I was fortunate enough to get to know you, and your talent. "WHAT A LIFE MAN"..............I hope you find your "Nirvana" with Buddha..............Best to Errol!!!
Erik Provensen
May 12, 2021